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CN D - Centre national de la danse 1990 - Director : Hernández, Téo

Choreographer(s) : Diverrès, Catherine (France)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr


CN D - Centre national de la danse 1990 - Director : Hernández, Téo

Choreographer(s) : Diverrès, Catherine (France)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr


“Concertino”, a work for ten dancers, was created at the Quartz in Brest in November 1990 after a ten-week residence at the Manoir de Keroual (Finistère, Brittany).

In the work’s accompanying notes, Catherine Diverrès considers it as the evocation of “a gathering of a family in a home, or of individuals connected together by a common story”. And, she adds: “On the day and night of a wedding, or a funeral, perhaps the dream of each of these people where everyone is in the other’s dream. We don’t know who’s alive and who’s dead. The events of a lifetime pass by, with the procession of feelings and nostalgic minimal images of childhood. At times, the sensuality of the scents and colours that emanates from nearby nature, at times, the violence, the absurdity of nightmares”. [1] The successive surrounding scenes are criss-crossed by representations of partner dances and traditional dances, as well as rituals that seem to bind this community together.

The very heart of this new creation draws its inspiration from the discovery of “The Book of Disquiet” by the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, recently translated into French (the first publication dates from 1982 and the French translation from 1988) and cornerstone of the work undertaken in the studio with the dancers. Snatches of text from the original Portuguese version and from the French translation punctuate the work, which is accompanied by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2”. As such, “a sequence of dreamlike scenes, forming a whole, takes place... moments of intense life and silences conducive to contemplative expectation. Bruises of passion, feelings detonated in a decor where the flurry of scattered straw contrasts the delicate wall of a bouquet of roses”. [2]

The choreographer imagined the stage design for the creation. A shimmering film stretched out at the back of the stage reflects the scenic space depending on the intensity of Pierre-Yves Lohier’s lighting, which structures the scenic space and embraces a dramaturgic role in its own right. From time to time, the shimmering surface also hosts the projection of the painting “Le Repas des moissonneurs” by the naturalist painter Jules-Jacques Veyrassat (1852, Chartres Museum of Fine Arts), then a short cinematic sequence by the experimental filmmaker Teo Hernandez, as such, extending their collaboration following on from “Le Printemps” (1989) and “Fragment” (1989).

“Concertino” was given widespread coverage. Its performance was particularly applauded, notably Catherine Diverrès’ solo, which took place at the midpoint of the creation and which was danced accompanied by the recorded voice of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova reading her poem “Requiem”, a tribute to her assassinated son, and “high point of the show” [3] as stated by the critic Jean-Marc Adolphe. On several occasions in her statement of intent and in interviews that she gave about her creation, the choreographer insists on the uncompromising conception that she sees in the work of any dancer, where they become fully-fledged “authors” of their dance: “The dancer’s revolution has yet to take place” she declared in the French newspaper Le Monde, “I am here to create my works, but my dancers must become the authors of their own dance”. [4] From this work onwards, Catherine Diverrès would, moreover, accompany the artistic aspect of her creations with texts theorizing her discipline, as Irène Filiberti, Catherine Diverrès specialist, emphasizes: “Through documents provided by the Company and through various publications, newspapers, magazines, books, a way of conceptualizing is sketched, which no longer involves only oral transmission with the dancers, during interviews and conversations held in public or with the critic, but also the production of texts (...) most of her writing relates to the transmission of dance and to dance training. This area would be particularly developed when she was appointed as Director of the National Choreographic Centre of Rennes and Brittany (CCNRB)”. [5]

“Concertino”, one of the major works of her production, would become a milestone in Catherine Diverrès’ career. For Irène Filiberti, this new creation, produced seven years after “Instance”, was to mark the moment when the choreographer would “assess what has been accomplished” and would draw up a choreographic review: “Choreography left the relation with narration aside a long time ago. If dramatic action does exist, it is not to be found in the comprehension of a story or a discourse but in a rhythmic, emotional, essentially musical tension provoked by situations, individual life journeys, unusual encounters between bodies, trajectories and objects. Dance’s strength continues to be in its capacity for abstraction. Choreography is the poetic writing of an acute conception of the length and the anonymous impulses of a period. Dance cannot be perceived without this momentary nostalgia, “capturing” the fleetingness of the present. Traces interest us as they make up memory. It is the sensation, the quality of what the eye and the ear will feel that will decide the “second life” (permanence) of the work. It is the feeling of pure temporality, on the whole metaphysical, which brings substance to a scenographic space”. [6]

Claire Delcroix

[1] Catherine Diverrès quoted by Jean-Marc Adolphe, Théâtre de la Ville programme, 4-6 June 1991.
[2] Onyx of Saint Herblain programme, 17 March 1992.
[3] Théâtre de la Ville handbill, 4-6 June 1996.
[4] Dominique Frétard, “La chorégraphe de l'intranquillité”, Le Monde, 30 May 1991.
[5] I. Filiberti, Catherine Diverrès mémoires passantes, Paris : Centre national de la danse ; L'Oeil d'or, 2010, p. 89.
[6] Ibid., p. 69

About this work

There is no rupture in this work, but a withdrawn disturbance, awakening to other modes of perception. Building on reality that is more everyday than in the previous creations – social and family ties, events that may mark a lifetime –, the dancers’ particular performance pursues a more abstract dimension. Strange wigged lackey, Bernardo Montet gives the impression that he is pacing, Rita Quaglia’s incantations rise up like tapered arms. Impassioned duos, blind desire and carnal derision divulge a feeling where each moves away from the other, as if it has been erased. As such, time seems to beat the drum just like the bodies. Air and transparency. Breathing. Other spaces, other dances appear between the inhalation and the exhalation. By reiterating itself, the movement becomes a sketch, recreating an overall vision and expressing a feeling of life removed from reality. The dancers are placed, displaced, in front and diagonal lines, and also sitting in front of a table like in the Last Supper. They come regularly and shatter their gangue against the edges of the table. The movement becomes striking, feverish to be set free, pounding the wood. As a counterpoint, miniature fluted notes erupt, lively swaying. Parade, seduction, broken necks, stretched out camber, the scenes follow one another. Around the white corollas, formed by the women’s dresses, innervated romanticism moves. The lyricism dashes across the image of a country-style wedding. Elsewhere, a depiction of the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian and even a sudden altercation. Even though the poetry of the bodies is tinted with tragedy and remote derision, it leads each performer to fill the space of their traverse. Modulated, oscillating, the surreptitious effervescence that moves them distils a rebel dance, which transgresses certainties and keeps its secret sealed in the prism of refined disenchantment.

I. Filiberti, “Catherine Diverrès, mémoires passantes”, Paris : Centre national de la danse (Parcours d'artiste) ; L'Oeil d'or, 2010, p. 68-69

Updating: May 2014

Diverrès, Catherine

Catherine Diverrès has said, “Conscience, our relationship with others, this is what creates time”, ever since her first choreographic creation. She is a sort of strange meteor, appearing in the landscape of contemporary dance in the mid-80’s. She stood out almost immediately in her rejection of the tenets of post-modern American dance and the classically-based vocabularies trending at that time. She trained at the Mudra School in Brussels under the direction of Maurice Béjart, and studied the techniques of José Limón, Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais before joining the company of Dominique Bagouet in Montpellier, then deciding to set out on her own choreographic journey.

Her first work was an iconic duo, Instance, with Bernardo Montet, based upon a study trip she took to Japan in 1983, during which she worked with one of the great masters of butoh, Kazuo Ohno. This marked the beginning of the Studio DM. Ten years later she was appointed director of the National Choreographic Center in Rennes, which she directed until 2008.

Over the years, Catherine Diverrès has created over thirty pieces, created her own dance language, an extreme and powerful dance, resonating with the great changes in life, entering into dialogues with the poets: Rilke, Pasolini and Holderlin, reflecting alongside the philosophers Wladimir Jankelevich and Jean-Luc Nancy, focusing also on the transmission of movement and repertoire in Echos, Stances and Solides and destabilising her own dancing with the help of the plastician Anish Kapoor in L’ombre du ciel.

Beginning in 2000, she began adapting her own style of dance by conceiving other structures for her creations: she improvised with the music in Blowin, developed projects based on experiences abroad, in Sicily for Cantieri, and with Spanish artists in La maison du sourd. Exploring the quality of stage presence, gravity, hallucinated images, suspensions, falls and flight — the choreographer began using her own dance as a means of revealing, revelation, unmasking, for example in Encor, in which movements and historical periods are presented. Diverrès works with the body to explore the important social and aesthetic changes of today, or to examine memory, the way she did in her recent solo in homage to Kazuo Ohno, O Sensei.

And now the cycle is repeating, opening on a new period of creation with the founding of Diverrès’ new company, Association d’Octobre, and the implantation of the company in the city of Vannes in Brittany. Continuing on her chosen path of creation and transmission, the choreographer and her dancers have taken on a legendary figure, Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons, in Penthésilée(s). In returning to group and collective work, this new work is indeed another step forward in the choreographer’s continuing artistic journey.

Source: Irène Filiberti, website of the company Catherine Diverrès

More information:

Hernández, Téo

Both similar to yet different from Jean Rouch, Teo Hernandez (1939-1992) used a Super 8 camera, which was much more economical and lighter than the 16 mm substandard one adopted in France by “cinéma vérité” followers, when filming the town, nature, mythology, the body and dance. He edited his films directly whilst shooting, the way Jonas Mekas did, without the hassle of touch-ups or pentimento. His shots, in terms of their length, never eclipse the sequences and consist of snapshots, flashes, blinks and flickering reminiscent of structural film. Between two blurs produced by sudden zooming, the image is incredibly sharp. A distinction can be drawn between the extra-cinematic movement and what is shown, even if sporadically, by the impressionistic framing, which is astonishingly vivacious. The dancer’s momentum has little to do with the apparent agitation, which is under control, the relentless spurts, the approximate focusing around the chosen or given subject. The cinema vérité, as illustrated by Teo Hernandez, plays with the dialectics of “fraternization-alienation”, based on “aesthetics of the improvised, of awkwardness, of spontaneity”, as stated Edgar Morin. In an article from 1983, Teo Hernandez touched on the type of momentum that inspired him: “The cinema is a profound and violent impulse, a reaction of complete perception, an effort to survive and to regenerate”.

In 1985, he met Bernardo Montet whose work inspired him to make the soundtrack VITRIOL (1985) and the films Pas de ciel, coproduced by the TNDI (National Theatre of Dance and Image) of Châteauvallon, and Vloof l'aigrette ! Pain de singe (1987). Among the twenty or so productions that he can be credited for, several films stand out, such as Salomé (1976), Michel Nedjar (1978), Cristaux (1978), Nuestra Señora de Paris (1982), etc.

Nicolas Villodre


“Teo Hernandez was one of the key figures in the currents “école du corps” (‘body cinema’) in France in the 1970s. His prolific and protean work, mainly filmed in Super 8 format, is marked by Baroque mysticism and sensuous attention to the male body. This programme presents several rare, unreleased films emerging from the luminous symbiosis – devoted to the duende – between the cinematography of Teo Hernandez, dancing filmmaker, and the choreographic act of Bernardo Montet.”

Teo Hernandez / Bernardo Montet, Centre Pompidou, 14 October 2009

latest update: November 2014


Choreography : Catherine Diverrès

Interpretation : Luis Ayet, Thierry Baë, Fabienne Compet, Catherine Diverrès, Olivier Gelpe, Bernardo Montet, Marion Mortureux, Rita Quaglia, Loïc Touzé, Mitsuyo Uesugi

Set design : Catherine Diverrès

Original music : Eiji Nakazawa

Video conception : Téo Hernandez

Lights : Pierre-Yves Lohier

Costumes : Cidalia da Costa

Settings : Gudrun Von Maltzan

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